As per the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) report, around 14-23% of American women struggle with the problems of depression during pregnancy. Would you believe that 1 in 6 pregnant women suffer from depression during and after pregnancy?
Pregnancy is the time when a woman undergoes major physiological as well as psychological changes. Although it is widely portrayed that pregnancy is the most wonderful period in a woman’s life and she should naturally feel happy, but it’s not true for all, especially the women whose pregnancy is characterized by depression.
The problem with depression during pregnancy is that the women do not recognize the symptoms of depression and when they are continuously bogged down by the feelings of sadness, they end up feeling guilty. Some people tell that the ‘low feeling’ is nothing but the general moodiness that most women experience during pregnancy.
For a pregnant woman, emotional well-being is as important as physical well-being. Depression during pregnancy can affect both the physical and emotional health of the mother and impair her ability to bond with her child.
Symptoms of Depression during Pregnancy
- Perpetually low mood and unexplained sadness.
- Decreased energy levels and feeling fatigued and exhausted.
- Feeling of void and emptiness within the heart.
- Negative feelings like guilt, shame, hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness.
- Feeling emotional and cry easily.
- Feeling highly irritated and become angry easily. Feel resentment deep inside.
- Loss of interest in all the things that you used to enjoy.
- Consistent feeling of being unmotivated to maintain a healthy daily routine.
- Insomnia or over-sleeping.
- Change in appetite with either over-eating or starving.
- Feeling of reclusion and withdrawal from the social life and contacts.
- Becoming unnecessarily fearful.
- Lack of concentration, nervousness, absent-mindedness and poor memory.
- Becoming anxious and fearful for the baby, scared for its health and panic about what would happen at the delivery time.
- Wanting to escape from everything around you and living all alone.
- Having suicidal thoughts like ending your life, or harming the baby or wanting an abortion.
Causes of Depression during Pregnancy
- Individual or family history of depression before pregnancy.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
- Living away from the family or lack of support from the family.
- Young age (in the case of teenage pregnancies).
- Marital conflict.
- History of abuse – emotional, sexual, physical or verbal.
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.
- Fertility treatments or problems.
- Complicated pregnancy with medical problems.
- Uncertainty and fear regarding pregnancy and childbirth.
- Previous bad experiences like stillbirth, miscarriage, labor pain etc.
- Stressful life, financial problems, death of near and dear ones etc.
- Tokophobia or fear of childbirth and pregnancy.
Home Remedies for Depression during Pregnancy
Do not feel depressed in this special phase of your life as there are many remedies, which you can use to keep depression miles away.
St. John’s Wort
It is an herbal plant and works as the antidepressant. Most of the doctors prescribe this for depression. It can treat mild to moderate depression and sometimes major depression will also be cured.
When compared to Zoloft and Paxil, st. John’s wort is more effective, but there are fewer side effects.
Note: As St. John’s wort interacts easily with other medicines, it should not be combined with other antidepressants, birth control pills etc. So it is better to consult a doctor before using St. John’s wort to control depression during pregnancy.
Dosage: 300 mg, 3 times in a day and standardized to 0.3 % hypericin or 2 to 4% hyperforin.
[Also Read:Home Remedies for Depression in Women]
Herbal Tea to Reduce Depression
A cup of herbal tea can help to reduce depression in a pregnant woman. There are no safety issues. A breastfeeding mother can also take this tea to treat the depression issues. In fact, its consumption can increase milk production due to the nutrients present in the tea.
Every woman can get benefited from this tea, but it is more helpful to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. You can prepare this tea at your home.
Different herbs are used to prepare this tea, which can help in reducing the depression during pregnancy. Let us know each of them.
Red Raspberry Leaf: Raspberry leaf offers many benefits to the woman. It contains Vitamin C and E, calcium, and iron. Its use increases fertility, reduces pain during labor and after birth. It also can prevent miscarriage and haemorrhage.
Nettle Leaf: This leaf contains Vitamin A, C, D, and K, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and sulphur. It regulates the function of kidneys; nourishes the mother, fetus and placenta; reduces pain; and increases the breast milk.
Oat Straw: Oat straw contains Vitamin A, B, C, calcium and magnesium. The oat straw provides nutrients to reinforce the nerves, especially when you are suffering from stress, one of the root causes of stress. It also cures anxiety, memory loss, and depression.
Chamomile: It helps a pregnant woman to get relief from stress and depression. It has anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and antispasmodic properties. So it helps in soothing the muscle cramps.
Lemon Balm: Add fresh lemon balm to your tea as it reduces depression, melancholy, and hysteria. If miscarriage is your problem, then don’t consume lemon balm.
Lavender: It lowers your stress levels, tension and headache but sometimes the nervous system becomes twitchy.
St. John’s Wort: St. John’s wort is the most preferred medicine for depression. You can use this in the preparation of the tea to get the benefits of it.
- Red raspberry leaves – 2 to 3
- Nettle leaves – 2 to3
- Oat straw – 2 tbsp
- Chamomile oil – 2 tsp
- Lemon balm leaves – 2 to 3
- Lavender oil – 1/4 tsp (optional)
- John’s wort (if not taking any antidepressant) – 1 tsp
- Water – 1 cup
- First sundry all the herbs.
- Combine all the dried herbs and make into powder.
- Store in a cool place.
- Take a cup of water and boil it.
- Add 1 tbsp of the mixed herb powder to the boiling water.
- After boiling, leave it for 6 to 8 hours for the proper infusion of herbs in the water.
- You can also add lavender oil to it (optional).
- Drink 3 to 4 cups of this herbal tea daily.
- Repeat this daily to avoid depression during pregnancy.
[Also Read:Home Remedies for Anxiety and Depression]
Body Massage for Depression during Pregnancy
Many researchers said that massaging will keep you relaxed and also helps to stay energetic. It relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. Massage also increases serotonin and dopamine level in the body, the neurotransmitters that help in reducing depression.
Patchouli Oil: It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties so it calms down the depression and apathy.
Petitgrain Oil: It also has antiseptic properties that avoid depression in pregnancy.
Sandalwood Oil: It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that cure pregnancy related cystitis.
- Patchouli oil- 3 to 4 drops
- Petitgrain oil- 3 to 4 drops
- Sandalwood oil- 5 to 6 drops
How to Massage?
You must take care while massaging pregnant women. And at the same time a pregnant lady should not take this massage till the first trimester is completed.
Don’t massage yourself as you definitely need another person for massaging, who may be a therapist or your husband. It is better to remove entire clothing, but if you are not comfortable be as you feel like.
- Mix the above-given oils and apply on the body parts like the back of neck, spine etc.
- Start massaging slowly at the back of the neck and continue massaging down gently to the hips and gently move back up to the neck slowly on the opposite side of the spine.
- Gently press in and down using your fist tilting the pelvis slightly as you do so and avoid moving down far to touch the tailbone.
- Massage in a circular motion from feet to thigh and finish it where the thigh meets the buttocks and avoid massaging the inner thigh.
Note: Just stop the massaging if you feel any discomfort or feeling dizzy.
[Also Read:Home Remedies for Teen Depression]
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Depression during Pregnancy
It is important to change your lifestyle to make yourself more comfortable with the phase of pregnancy. The depression will go off if you will feel engaged and happy in your life. Below are a few lifestyle changes, which you can implement to reduce depression during pregnancy easily.
Fix a Daily Routine
Depression can upset your standard routine by further adding to the aimlessness and directionlessness you’re experiencing already. You eat and sleep at odd times. Sometimes you sleep throughout the day and sometimes you do not sleep the whole night.
Try to fix a routine for yourself, even if you do not like it at all. Take the help of a reminder in your phone, eat at a fixed time, and try to sleep at a fixed time. Even if you are unable to sleep at night, force yourself not to sleep throughout the day.
Exercise is necessary for everyone as it’s a magic remedy for depression. The real challenge is to get you to exercise. Take a good long morning walk or an evening walk in a park nearby. Swim if you love to swim.
Exercise boosts endorphins in our body. Endorphins are the feel-good chemicals that help fine tune your mind and you can see a remarkable difference in your mood to fight depression during pregnancy.
Sometimes when you are low, you gravitate towards calorie-rich foods like pizzas, burgers, chips, cola, ice-creams, cake or chocolate. But these foods make you feel good as long as you are eating them. They contribute to weight gain and other related problems.
Make a positive change in your dietary habits by eating foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like tuna fish, salmon, mussel etc. or foods rich in folic acid like avocados, leafy greens, citrus fruits, beans, etc to uplift your mood to combat depression during pregnancy.
Vitamin deficiency is the main reason for depression during pregnancy. You should take required vitamins in enough amounts to be healthy. B-complex vitamins are essential to keep mental and emotional feelings in control. Consume foods rich in Vitamin B content to stay away from depression during pregnancy.
Keep Yourself Busy
Take up a hobby or a part time job that interests you and keeps you busy at the same time. Keeping yourself busy will help you beat the problems of feeling worthless or hopeless.
Write, paint, sing, or learn to play a musical instrument, learn photography or take up a short course on anything that you love to do. Do something different, enjoyable and challenging to treat pregnancy depression.
Try to Relax Yourself
Whenever you feel anxious and nervous, try to calm yourself and control your mind and the continuous thoughts. Listen to music, watch your favorite film, take a cool shower, get a nice foot massage, or do whatever it takes to distract your mind from the anxiety and depression causing thoughts.
Yes, it is true that exposure to sunlight will help you get rid of depression during pregnancy. You can get Vitamin D from sunlight. If you are suffering from the seasonal disorder, then this sunlight might help you.
Nature will always bring peace to your mind and it costs nothing, so just try it!
Yoga and Meditation
A research conducted on 100 pregnant women in Michigan, Colorado and Georgia revealed that a 10-week mindful yoga and meditation class can reduce the symptoms of depression in pregnant women.
It also helps them to connect better with their unborn babies and develop a more positive outlook towards pregnancy, child birth and child care.
It is the best remedy to avoid depression in pregnancy. You can express all your feelings and thoughts by talking to a therapist who will help you to deal better with depression. You can also talk with your dear ones to get rid of depression.
If you ignore your depression during pregnancy, it is likely to get worse. Sometimes the doctor may refer you to a counselor who can help you sort yourself mentally and help you get answers for your concerns.
Remember that untreated depression during pregnancy can harm both the mother and the child. It can become an important cause of post-partum or post-pregnancy depression.
So, keep yourself happy if you are pregnant and get prepared to welcome your bundle of joy.